By Brad Wilke | April 19, 2009

“David & Fatima” is a heavy-handed exploration of a multi-cultural romance set in Jerusalem. Following the romantic fumblings of the eponymous title characters, it attempts to bridge major cultural differences with the power of love.

Unfortunately, the script does not live up to its storytelling ambition.

Not much more than a pat retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,” “David & Fatima” documents the illicit romance between two lovers from different worlds. David is an Israeli Jew, while Fatima is a Palestinian Muslim. Obviously, this is not a good combination. Their families do everything in their power to keep them apart, but eventually they find a way to unite, which causes unforeseen consequences for everyone involved.

With production values on par with a made-for-television movie, “David & Fatima” never reaches beyond the surface of the regional conflict. It merely provides an overview rife with stereotypes and one-dimensional characters.

When dealing with a subject as controversial and delicate as the Middle East peace process, it calls for a bold statement from the filmmaker. To have an opportunity to address such a major topic, it is not enough to trot out familiar talking points in the guise of dialogue or allow classic conflicts to play themselves out as expected.

The problem with “David & Fatima” is twofold: it takes itself too seriously and refuses to take any narrative risks. This is the second Kari Bian production I have recently seen (though this film was written and directed by Alain Zaloum) and by far the better of the two (the other being “The Ironman”). “David & Fatima” certainly has its heart in the right place, but, unfortunately, that is not enough to create a compelling, engaging narrative.

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